Sea Rescue Magazine :: Editor's Letter
Winter 2019
   Sea Rescue Magazine

The year continues at pace with exciting developments: the delivery of the first ORC 14m rescue vessel to Durban, the beginning of the construction of ORCs in Cape Town, breaking ground for new stations at Simon’s Town and Hermanus, the evolution of the Pink Rescue Buoy Campaign, growing Lifeguarding Operations, installing in-house administration at the NSRI store in the Waterfront and the call centre now operating directly under NSRI management...

It’s been a roller-coaster six months, all supported by your significant contributions
as donors and stakeholders.

Volunteers continue to deliver outstanding services with dependable passion and commitment – the foundation of the NSRI brand! It’s real; we save lives. I don’t think there is anyone in the country who doesn’t value and appreciate the contribution made by our volunteers and respect the integrity with which they go about the business of rescue. It’s unquestionably the cornerstone of the organisation.

Stakeholders, particularly donors, are another cornerstone of the NSRI and justifiably expect that we operate at the highest ethical standards and utilise the significant contributions they make judiciously and responsibly. Increasingly over time I have questioned our cost of fundraising and engaged with donors over the issue – this has resulted in us taking over the call centre directly from a third-party provider, thereby significantly improving the proportion of each donation that goes to fund rescue and drowning-prevention activities. Internationally the cost of fundraising across a range of charities and fundraising streams is benchmarked at about 20% to 70% of total revenue, with the understanding that raising money requires resources and effort. International fundraising monitoring agencies raise concerns when costs of fundraising are at or above 70% of revenue. The cost of fundraising varies across a range of activities. For instance, we are currently losing money on direct mail and will have to decide whether or not to continue with it. It is important to keep in mind that fundraising activities may also have a marketing, communication, awareness, donor- recruitment or operational element.

Historically our costs of fundraising have approached 50% for certain activities, such as the very effective call centre, which was governed by a legal agreement. That agreement has been terminated and in 2019 our cost of fundraising through the call centre will be 25% of revenue, so we have addressed the concern.

The NSRI fundraising model of diversity also addresses major-donor dependency or what’s known as the dependency quotient. The NSRI depends not on a few major donors but on almost 100 000 individual and corporate donors, which significantly reduces the consequence of a major donor withdrawing their support.

There is no question that the NSRI is an effective charity and service, raising
money progressively to deliver on its drowning-prevention and rescue mandate –
but I think it’s important that donors are confident and assured, firstly that quality services are delivered and secondly that most of their donation supports those services directly. I am confident that in 2019 we can give you that assurance and that
we will continue to be critical of our costs.

Every day you call us, email us, text us, WhatsApp us and send us your thoughts via voice messages. Not every message gets a reply but we appreciate all your feedback and make work of it. Thank you for your support, particularly under austere economic conditions! Like the sea, it’s rough out there but we are proud of the service we deliver for and on your behalf – and we are sure you are too.
Dr Cleeve Robertson


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